For every athlete who’s ever thought about quitting. I’ve been there. It is possible to love the game once more, but only after you’re done blaming everything around you. One of the harder life lessons, but also the simplest. It is within us that we find our joy. It cannot be given, it cannot be stolen. It must be made.
Where is My Joy?
I loved this game before, but I have lost my joy. I show up day after day seeking it, but it alludes me. I find only struggle, frustration and heartache. I don’t perform like I used too. I cannot please anyone. I cannot do anything right. Where is my joy?
I look for it in my teammates, but in their faces, I see only frustration or impatience with me. The fun is gone when I am with them even though some of them seem to have their own joy, they have no joy to give me.
I look for it in my coaches, but they give only corrections, pointing out my failures, seeing my destruction as I fail to progress. They tell me I’m doing ok, to get my head back in the game, but when I leave practice each day I feel defeated. Though they seem to have a joy in their coaching, I know that they have no joy to give me.
I look for it in my family, but their lives are busy and the details of life, the mundane list of daily tasks, is all they have time for. They tell me I’m doing well, to keep my head up. They seem to have it, that love and excitement. But they have none to give me.
I look for it in my friends, but even their words of encouragement fall flat. They don’t truly understand what I’m going through. I see them laughing and enjoying things, but they share no joy with me.
Everyday I show up, like I’m supposed too, and I complete my tasks, but no one has given me any joy. I fear it’s gone forever. As I sit holding my bag of practice gear, I contemplate quitting. Why do I do this to myself? I do not love this game anymore. My legs feel like lead when I run, my heart feels heavy, I can’t focus, I’m preoccupied with starting, playing time, stats and recognition to prove it’s all FOR something. I’m no longer getting those things, so I no longer know what it’s for.
That is when a tiny voice whispered to me. I don’t know where it came from, but it answered me as though I had asked it directly, “where is my joy?”
Your joy has never left you, friend. You’re seeking it in the wrong places. Your are looking for what you expect. You are expecting negative and so that is all you see. Your joy is not in your friends, or theirs to give you, but it does exist inside the friendship you have made. It is not in your coaches, they are not holding it back from you. It is in the overcoming of the challenges your coaches’ lead you through. It is in the milestones, the training, the process, the practice. You are missing it because you are looking outside to find it. It has been there, inside you this whole time. The love of sport does not come from joy. Joy comes from the love of sport. You haven’t lost your joy, you’ve lost your love of the adventure and the journey. You’ve lost the reason you started playing. You’ve lost the fun.
“But, if I’ve had it the whole time, why can’t I find it?” I asked in frustration half aloud to the little voice.
Because it is not something you can find, friend. You make it. You create it. You build it. With every step and word and effort each day, you choose to either do it for nothing or to do it for a purpose. And in that purpose, you will find your love. And in that love, wrapped up inside, is the joy you have created. No one can give it to you, and no one can take it away. With every passing day you can feed and grow that joy, or you can see only negativity, the choice is up to you.
Crack open that trophy, look on the back of that page of stats. The joy isn’t there either. No pile of trophies, recruiting letters, or awards will feed your joy. Those things merely feed your want for more.
Find your purpose. Put that purpose in front of everything you do, and you won’t have to look for your joy anymore. It will find you.